The term “destination” is often used to describe some of the best locations to visit.
Yankee Candle Village in Deerfield is considered a “destination,” so is the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, for example. And when it comes to shopping for fine wines, spirits, beers and specialty food, Table & Vine in West Springfield is on that list, too.
It is a shopping experience that includes 4,000 varieties of wine, 3,500 spirits, 3,500 domestic, imported, micro and craft-brewed beers, 150 artisan cheeses and 1,500 specialty foods – the largest to be found on the East Coast.
“Our vast selection truly makes us a destination shopping experience. We pride ourselves on supporting small businesses and working with local producers to sell their beers, wines and spirits. What also sets us apart is our many expert staff members who can answer any of your questions and make suggestions based on your taste and budget,” said Steven T. Smith, marketing and media relations specialist for Table & Vine, a division of Big Y Foods, Inc.
While their knowledgeable staff is helpful anytime of the year, they can come in extra handy during the holidays.
Planning on having a holiday party and need to stock your bar? Then you better make a list of all the spirits, wines, beers, and other non-alcoholic drinks you will need for thirsty partygoers.
“I definitely recommend some Steel Dust Vodka which is made from corn and distilled in Texas, plus it’s gluten free and vodka is far and away the number one spirit sold. I’m also a big fan of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, and you will want to have some bourbon, scotch and rum on hand. Plantation Rum, which is a Frenchbased company, bottles their rums from all over the Caribbean and it’s a good choice for your bar. If you think that you will be making a Manhattan or a Negroni, then you will want some vermouth, but a nice one like the French Dolin Vermouth or Carpano Antica, a sweet vermouth from Italy. When you are only using one or two ingredients in a drink, quality matters more because that is all you are tasting,” said Michael Brunelle, corporate wine and spirits sales manager.
If you are looking for a different beer to offer up to your guests, Steve Thibault, corporate beer and liquor sales manager, recommended trying a ginger beer, which he said is very popular at this time of year, including Gosling’s Dark ’n Stormy, named after the cocktail, which is a dark rum and ginger beer mix.
“You will also need a selection of hard ciders like Angry Orchard or City Roots and today’s popular hard seltzers which have really moved the needle on the beer business year-round,” Thibault said. On the wine side, Brunelle said “the simpler the better” for your selection.
“Choose one or two popular white wines such as a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and one or two reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. If I were having a party, I would purchase a handful of
California Landscape wines, priced under $12, including their Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir, which recently won a blind tasting challenge with our staff as the best Pinot Noir under $15. We also have a total crowd pleaser called Hierogram. It’s a Zinfandel from Lodi in California with lots of rich fruit without being sweet.
Not to forget, you will also need fruit juices like orange and cranberry juice for mixers, tonic water, and sodas, including sugar-free.
When making your selections for the holiday bar (or simply for yourself or giftgiving), you can also choose from Table & Vine’s extensive collection of local spirits, beer and wine.
“We have a great partnership with Berkshire Brewing with whom we contract to brew our Table & Vine Craft Brews such as Mount Greylock Porter, River Valley IPA and Colonial Rebellion,” Thibault said.
When it comes to local brews, just a sampling of what Table & Vine has to offer includes Iron Duke Brewing in Ludlow, Spencer Brewery in Spencer, Hitchcock Brewing in Bernardston, Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton, Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton, New City Brewery in Easthampton and nearly 30 others from Massachusetts. There are also beers from Connecticut such as Hog River Brewing Co. in Hartford and Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield, as well as others from Vermont and New Hampshire, including Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont.
Local wineries include Black Birch Vineyard in Hatfield, Mineral Hills Winery in Northampton, Hardwick Vineyard and Winery in Hardwick, and Truro Vineyards at Cape Cod.
“Steve and I are very proud of our relationship with our local partners and we challenge ourselves every day to find even more local business to work with,” Brunelle said.
In addition to local wines, Brunelle said still another option is to include some of Table & Vines’ exclusive Vineyard Selection wines.
“Along with Michael Quinlan, our fine wine buyer, we have literally searched the world over to find wines we personally enjoy and would want to drink at home. These are wines that we want to share with our customers as well. They are great value wines that won’t break the bank and offer something new and different to taste,” Brunelle said.
“These selections represent 11 different countries that we have traveled to including Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, Spain and beyond. And I think they really deserve a spot on your holiday table or anytime,” he added about the wines which range in price from $9 to $40. Just look for the Vineyard Selection shelf talker or neck hanger and you can be sure you’re making a great choice,” he added.
When the time comes to break bread at the holiday table, both Brunelle and Thibault offered some tips.
“First, I think every party or dinner should start with a flute of champagne or sparkling wine handed out as your guests enter your home. We have a really great Prosecco right now, which is on fire and singlehandedly moving the needle with sparkling wine sales. Masottino has a nice acidity to it with a peachy, apply flavor. It was recently awarded 96 points from Decanter magazine. As we say, ‘bubbles make everything better,’” Brunelle said.
If you are serving turkey or roasted chicken, Brunelle said he “would lean toward a white wine,” which is also great for seafood.
“We have a great Chardonnay, El Enemigo from the Catena family and 98 points from wine critic James Suckling, which sells for $25 and is not that much of a splurge when you consider how much you have already invested in the dinner table,” Brunelle said. For beef dishes you want to “step on the gas,” he noted, with red wine such as a Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.
“You might also want to consider some Merlots which are beautifully structured wines that are elegant and never seem to overpower dinner, and that make your food more front and center where it should be,” Brunelle said.
Beers at this time of year or anytime pair well with hearty dishes such as beef stew and are also good with some cheeses, noted Thibault.
“Porters, stouts, and Belgian style ales have a great spiciness to them and balance out the different foods you are eating,” he said.
When New Year’s Eve arrives and you want to share some bubbly as the clock strikes 12, there is plenty to choose from.
“If you want something sweet, then don’t go for a Brut, which is dry. You would want more of a Martini and Rossi Asti which sells for $8.98 in December. And, if you are looking for the best, you can go all the way up to Dom Perignon for about $150 a bottle,” Brunelle said.
For gift giving during the holiday season, Marianne Therrien, gourmet foods manager, has created a selection of some 15 different pre-made gift baskets filled with gourmet goodies that range from handcrafted chocolates to crackers, jams, jellies, and imported and domestic artisan cheeses, along with that fine bottle of wine, champagne, spirits or beer.
“Marianne and her staff also enjoy working with customers to create gift baskets filled with personal selections for that very special person you are giving to,” Smith said.
Shoppers will also find the typical buckets of six-packs of beer with different brewer logos and a bag of peanuts that are popular gift ideas during the holiday season.
“There are also many great options for spirits which often come with value-added packaging at this time of year, such as including a rocks glass or flask for the same cost as the traditional bottle,” Brunelle said.
If you really want to impress, consider gifting a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch or The Last Drop, which is a 1950 Cognac, or even a bottle of a limited-edition Utopia from Samuel Adams.
Also, if you love the taste of beer and wine, but need to choose the non-alcoholic variety, ask the staff for their recommendations from Chardonnays to Cabernets and more, as well as the many different styles of beer minus the alcohol.
Additional Table & Vine experiences on a smaller scale can be found in Northampton, Greenfield, Wilbraham, Holden and Franklin, Massachusetts Big Y Supermarkets.
You can learn much more about Table & Vine and their flagship West Springfield, Massachusetts, store on 1119 Riverdale St. along Route 5, by visiting tableandvine.com
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